November 21, 2018
John Vomhof Jr.Staff Writer
Like the rest of the country, we are deeply saddened by the impact the deadly wildfires have had on our employees, customers and communities in California. Our thoughts are with all those who have been affected.
Thankfully, all our employees in the affected areas have been accounted for. However, at least seven of them have lost their homes, and many more remain under mandatory evacuation orders.
The store in Chico closed for two-and-a-half days during the fire to accommodate employees who were dealing with evacuations and ensure their safety amid extremely poor air quality. But now the store is back open to assist displaced residents with connectivity issues.
“It’s an emotional situation because everyone you run into is trying to get reconnected with family and friends and trying to communicate with insurance companies and FEMA without any electronics,” General Manager Gregg Masse said. “People will break down in tears mid-conversation because they’re dealing with overwhelming circumstances.”
Meanwhile, to the south in Thousand Oaks our store was one of the few retailers in the area that never closed during the fire, even though approximately 100 of the store’s 150 employees had been evacuated.
“Most people left in a rush and didn’t have everything they needed, so they were able to come in to pick up some essentials like antennas, radios and air filters,” General Manager Marine Aslanyan said. “They were extremely thankful that the store was open.”
She added: “It was really a challenging time for everybody here, but we were able to help and support one another through it.”
Here’s what else we’re doing to support our employees and communities.
- Powering up: We have a stockpile of charging units, tablets, cables and batteries for our nonprofit partners to use in shelters and distribute to those directly impacted by the fires.
- Internet, entertainment at shelters: Working with nonprofit partners, we also have fully functional internet cafés for shelters, where affected residents will be able to apply for aid and contact friends and family. Once long-term shelters are established, we will set up entertainment centers — complete with large-screen TVs, Blu-ray players and family-friendly movies — for children to enjoy.
- Helping hands: Geek Squad Agents and Blue Shirts are prepared to help with the distribution and set up of the technology.
- Red Cross donations: Customers can donate to the Red Cross via BestBuy.com.
- Employee assistance: Best Buy employees in disaster-stricken areas will be eligible for financial support from the Richard M. Schulze Family Foundation, established by the company’s founder, Dick Schulze.
- Donations matched: Employees who give to the Schulze fund for the benefit of their affected colleagues will have their donations matched 100 percent by Best Buy.
- Gift of time: Best Buy employees also will be able to donate paid time off to affected colleagues in disaster areas.
We invite customers to support recovery efforts by donating to the Red Cross.